JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The Bennett-Lapid “change government” has yet to get underway but there are already many worrying signs that it is set to significantly harm the interests of the religious public despite Bennett’s claiming otherwise. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, who is tipped for being the next Environment Minister, is attempting to promote a bill which would legislate that attempting to persuade a minor to do Teshuva would be deemed a criminal felony with a possible six-month prison sentence. Zandberg is concerned that impressionable minors may become religious against their best interests because of their youth.
The provocative law would prevent the successful Torah activities of various organizations as well as threatening the Shuvu school system where children from secular homes study high-level secular studies but also gain Jewish knowledge.
Zandberg’s law would probably not merit a majority in the Knesset but it indicates the direction of the new government, which is set to include a Reform rabbi in its cabinet, towards religious affairs.
Coalition whip Miki Zohar said that “the Likud will act with all its parliamentary tools together with other right-wing parties to remove this “persecution of Judaism” law from the Knesset’s roster. It is unbelievable that in the state of the Jews a law could be submitted which is designed to prevent observant Jews from disseminating the Torah of Israel- the source of the Jewish nation’s strength. Without Jewish tradition we have no right to exist in the land of Israel.”
The Yad Le’achim organization also criticized Zandberg’s proposal, stating that for many years they have tried to make missionary activity illegal and they cannot comprehend how luring people into leaving their religion is legitimate but persuading them to maintain traditions which have been hallowed for thousands of years could be considered illegal.
UTJ MK Yaakov Eichler responded to Zandberg’s initiative by proposing a bill which would ban attempts to entice minors to leave religious life. Eichler said that persuading children to leave religious life is like persuading them to convert to another religion which is legislated by law. He used the same expressions used by Zandberg, stating that “enticing a minor, whose views are less coherent than those of an adult, to change his beliefs and become a person without faith is something he should consider by himself without any external enticement.”